Sunday, June 14, 2015

Afghan Spicy Chaplee Kabobs and a Mediterranean Party...

Middle Eastern food in general often comes up when we get together with my brother and sisters' families. Within each country such as Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Afghan, they have their own take on grilled tasty kabobs and vegetables, fluffy basmati rice, and chewy fragrant breads. Hosting my dad's birthday yesterday with the rest of the family, brought Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours into my kitchen and back patio on the Q for the first time this year! I remember trying the ever-so-spicy specialty Chaplee Kabob at my all-time favourite Afghan joint in town, Bamiyan Kabob, and wow, it certainly wasn't for the faint of heart. Sweat-inducing spicy, this beef patty's distinct addictive flavours of ground coriander, garlic, jalapeno and dried chilli flakes reels me in every time, and my siblings and partners enjoy them the same. Gave it a go, and of course, since this is a family affair with kids and my parents aren't big on spicy, I split up the batch to make one spicy and one non-- shaped the kabobs differently to easily tell which is which! Result- a spicy version that is reasonable and doesn't hurt. Up the jalapeno, red chili flakes or go for green chillies or Thai red chillies instead if you want it super hot!

Scroll down for the rest of the menu which includes grilled vegetables, grilled homemade flatbreads, Lemon-Thyme Chicken Skewers, Jalapeno- Bacon Cream Cheese Picks, Black Bean Quinoa Salad and all the fixins'. Sounds like a lot of food, but as it always is with our get-togethers, everyone pitches in to help with laughter, conversations and good beer along the way....

Afghan Spicy Chaplee Kabobs (adapted from Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook)
NOTE: this recipe makes about 10 spicy patties and 16 non-spicy logs

3 lb. regular ground beef (if using lean ground beef, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to mixture)
5 - 6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 jalapeños, stemmed and finely chopped
4 Tbsp. ground coriander (if using seeds, toast 5 Tbsp. in dry skillet on medium heat for five minutes and grind), divided
2 Tbsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste, divided

Ground sumak for sprinkling (optional)
oil for the grill

Split the beef into two large bowls. In food processor, pulse garlic and onions until just minced. (Don't overprocess or they'll turn to liquid). Pour half into one bowl-- for non-spicy and add minced jalapeno to remaining onion mixture in the food processor. Pulse for five seconds. Pour on top of second bowl of beef for spicy version. 

Use a spoon to easily scoop out jalapenos inner membrane and seeds.

Add 2 Tbsp. coriander and 1 tsp. salt in each bowl. In the spicy bowl, also add 2 Tbsp. chilli flakes. Mix well by hand (use a disposable glove) and refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Working with the non-spicy mixture first, divide into balls and mould into logs. Place onto a tray in rows.  For the spicy mixture, flatten each into thin patties, about 3". The norm is about 5", but I prefer to make mine smaller so they are easier to handle on the grill. Making larger patties will yield less.

Non-spicy and spicy chaplee beef mixtures.

Laying shaped pieces on parchment paper makes them easier to remove and mess-free.

Grill on BBQ over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked.

Sprinkle with slightly tart ground berry spice sumak and serve hot!

Other things on the menu included grilled vegetables, thinly sliced doused with olive oil infused with chopped garlic, salt and dried oregano. Coloured bell peppers, eggplants and zucchinis are terrific veggies that are healthy, colourful and grill-favourites! See here for recipe. 

Grilled vegetables on the Q!

Preparing and kneading two batches of homemade flatbread doughs to accompany the Mediterranean celebration dinner!

Loved that my mom offered to grill the flatbreads while I stretched the pieces of dough! 

Lemon-Thyme Chicken Skewers was another meat alternative for everyone to enjoy!
Loved that my sis-in-law Yoko donned on disposable gloves to help with the skewering!

Nice, hot and succulent!!

These are my sister and brother-in-law's delectable jalapeno appetizers as a prelude to a BBQ feast. Jalapenos are halved, seeded, filled with cream cheese to make boats, and simply wrapped with bacon strip halves, held together with a toothpick, and a good cracking of freshly ground black pepper. Quickly flamed over a hot grill, these crisp, smoky, creamy, piquant bites transformed to heaven on a pick! So ridiculously scrumptious it's impossible to stop at one!

Jalapeno- Bacon Cream Cheese Picks

A melange of meats hit the grill including store-bought sweet-cured Filipino sausages on top.

Delicious or what??

The feast starts with grilled vegetables and grilled flatbreads while the meats are cooking. Hummus, pickled turnips, mixed Iranian pickles along with lettuce leaves, chopped parsley and red onions slices for topping fixin's. Homemade yogurt dip with dill and lemon doubles up as a sandwich dressing and a creamy dip for vegetables. 

My sister's Black Bean Quinoa Salad with cumin and lime flavours in the forefront.


Have to thank my hubby (where's the apron hon??) for manning the Q the entire time! Q (Quoc) on the Q- ha!

Kids decide to take the eating outdoors! Why not??

And to cap off the lovely evening, a very happy birthday song and cakes for the man of honour-- daddy!

Six grandsons surround, minus my youngest.

The best part--- leftovers!!! Bought some Persian sesame sub breads to make sandwiches today for a picnic at the park but got rained in. So what to do-- why not bring picnic indoors?

Grilled chaplee and vegetables are smothered in the bread with yogurt lemon dill dressing!

The eating and fun continues...

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